HC Deb 01 May 1968 vol 763 cc1092-4
22. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what forces will be stationed in the Persian Gulf and Singapore in April, 1971; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Healey

The forces appropriate to the circumstances at that time.

Mr. Marten

Will the Secretary of State enlarge upon that and tell us whether we shall have proper and effective forces in these two areas till the end of 1971, or will there be a run-down in the defence of that area? What will be the position in April, 1971, which is the last month of the constitutional life of this Government?

Mr. Healey

The hon. Member may be aware that we are discussing with our Allies in both these areas our proposals for the programme of this run-down. I can assure him that we shall ensure that we always have forces capable of carrying out our obligations as they exist at any given time.

Mr. Dalyell

Would my right hon. Friend not agree with the proposition that British troops should not prop up regimes which keep their political opponents in prison without trial, and when he goes to Kuala Lumpur will he ask Mr. Lee Kuan Yew a few pertinent questions about his political prisoners who are in gaol without trial?

Mr. Healey

I do not expect to meet Mr. Lee Kuan Yew in Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital of Malaysia, as he will be in Europe at that time.

Mr. Maudling

In view of the crucial importance of the Trucial and Oman States for security in the Persian Gulf, will the right hon. Gentleman make some statement as to the future of these areas?

Mr. Healey

This matter is under consideration, and when I have detailed proposals to give to the House I will communicate them.

Mr. Dalyell

On a point of order. My reference to Kuala Lumpur was, of course, to the forthcoming conference to which the Defence Secretary referred in a previous Question. I thought this was plain enough.

Mr. Speaker

That is a point of argument, not a point of order.